Fussy eating is in the genes

The fear of new foods (Neophobia) is in the genes, according to new research.


Dr Jane Wardle, director of the Health Behaviour Unit at University College London, and colleagues asked the parents of 5,390 pairs of identical and non-identical twins to complete a questionnaire on the willingness of their children to try new foods.


Identical twins, who share all genes, were much more likely to respond the same way to new foods than non-identical twins, who, like other siblings, only share about half their genes.

Researchers of the study, published in this month’s American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that genetics played a greater role in determining eating preferences than environment.

Dr Wardle said food preferences appeared “as inheritable a characteristic as height”.

“Your child’s genetic make-up is going to influence to a large extent how willing he or she is to eat new foods,” said Dr Marlene Schwartz, deputy director of the Rudd Centre for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.


Neophobia typically kicks in at age 2 or 3. While most grow out of the food fussiness by 5, not all do.

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